A Midsummer Night's Scream

by Joseph Grant

The government did not tell us then nor would it tell us even now and there were only a handful of us left working until recently on the S.O.F.I.A. Project or the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy Program for NASA. S.O.F.I.A. is an extensively adapted Boeing 747SP, equipped to carry a 45,000-pound, 98.4-inch diameter infrared telescope assembly capable of flying at altitudes up to 45,000 feet above the approximately 99 percent of the stratospheric water vapor, enabling the lens to capture images and scale not even attainable by the strongest Earth-based telescopes. Our findings, handed over personally to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President himself, did not even seem to raise an eyebrow, nor did it bring about a world-wide call-to-arms when myself and a group of scientists went public with our report. Instead, what happened was the most confounding and unscientific reaction; the US government immediately fired us, replaced us with scientists who would adhere to their findings and Congress absurdly chose a commission to conduct a lengthy and expensive study of the impending emergency. As the countdown to end times nears and the once neglected churches, synagogues and mosques fill to spurious capacity, I look back to those almost halcyon days when there was actually enough time to send up some sort of celestial response to meet and destroy what the government identified as meteors before what they were quietly upgraded to fireballs had interrupted all computers and electronics, thus making such resistance impossible. What fools these mortals be, I thought, paraphrasing Shakespeare as I looked at the tiny red, glowing objects now noticeable in the warm, summer nighttime sky; they weren’t meteors as the government insisted; but an advancing armada.


Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.